Shelters in Cape Town are filling up as winter bites

The Haven’s shelters are already 85% full

| By

A person sleeps on the street in Cape Town’s city centre. Shelters and safe spaces for homeless people in the city are filling up as winter bites. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Shelters for homeless people across Cape Town are filling up as winter bites. The Haven, which has 14 shelters and 1,300 beds, says the shelters are already 85% full.

While the weather is good, says Haven CEO Shaddie Valayadum, it is possible to make money on the streets. But when it’s cold … there isn’t much money to be made. “The minute it starts to get extremely cold and wet, we fill to capacity … and we are waiting for that”.

For winter, Valayadum says the Haven will free up about 100 additional bed spaces, 70 of which are new. To do this, they will move some of their seniors in shelters to longer-term places in Malmesbury, Ceres and Mossel Bay. The organisation is also upgrading its Wynberg shelter to accommodate 40 more people this year.

In 2020, U-Turn conducted a study on The Cost of Homelessness in Cape Town and estimated that there are over 14, 000 homeless people in Cape Town and Johannesburg. This was before Covid and the number has likely increased. According to the 2022 census, there are nearly 56,000 homeless people in South Africa, about 12% of them in the Cape Town Metro.

Steve Underwood, spokesperson at U-Turn, thinks the census number is too low. He suspects the true number of homeless in Cape Town is nearer 20,000.

U-Turn, which helps people acquire skills and resources, serves more than 2,500 people in four shelters in Cape Town: in Claremont, Mitchells Plain, Muizenberg and Parow. The organisation’s shelter in Claremont has 35 beds. “It is always full,” says Underwood. He says the shelter even has a “waiting list” and as the weather gets worse more and more people will come.

The City of Cape Town says that there are about 3,500 beds in shelters and safe spaces. The City runs four safe spaces, one in Durbanville, one in Bellville and two in Culemborg, with a total of 800 beds. They are 90% full, says Patricia Van der Ross, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health.

The Western Cape Government has 37 registered shelters on its website.

Van der Ross says a new site will be opened in Greenpoint in July. “The site will be able to accommodate 300 people, providing sleeping spaces, ablution facilities, a training room, social work services and 24-hour security”, she says.

TOPICS:  Homeless

Next:  Meet the beekeepers of the mangrove forests

Previous:  Youth take to their bikes to protest against mining companies

© 2024 GroundUp. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

We put an invisible pixel in the article so that we can count traffic to republishers. All analytics tools are solely on our servers. We do not give our logs to any third party. Logs are deleted after two weeks. We do not use any IP address identifying information except to count regional traffic. We are solely interested in counting hits, not tracking users. If you republish, please do not delete the invisible pixel.